Wild cards for Kemboi, Mwangangi in 47-strong Kenya team

By: AYUMBA AYODI

Olympics and World 3,000m steeplechase champion, Ezekiel Kemboi, and Diamond League 5,000m champion, Caleb Mwangangi, are among the athletes who were given wild cards to the World Championships.

Athletics Kenya vice president in charge of competitions, David Okeyo, named the athletes in a squad of 47 athletes, who will represent Kenya in the World Championships due for August 22 to 30 in Beijing, China.

President Uhuru Kenyatta witnessed the explosive trials and later challenged the team to produce better results than what they achieved in Moscow 2013.

The World trials were a culmination of the Safaricom-sponsored Athletics Kenya National Track and Field events. Safaricom pumped in Sh 120m in this year’s events.

Also handed wild cards were the 2012 London Olympics 10,000m Sally Kipyego, World 5,000m silver medallist, Mercy Cherono and World 5,000m bronze medallist, Isaiah Kiplangat. Top two in each race were handed automatic tickets to Beijing.

Kemboi, who finished fourth during the trials that were won by Jairus Birech was given the wild card by virtue of being the defending champion. Kenya’s 3,000m team will have four representatives.

Kemboi, who is seeking an unprecedented fourth World title after previous wins in 2009 Berlin, 2011 Daegu and 2013 Moscow will team up with Birech, the World silver medallist, Conseslus Kipruto and the 2008 Beijing Olympics champion Brimin Kipruto, who finished in that order at the trials.

Mwangangi, who didn’t compete in the men’s 5,000m race that was won by the 2008 Beijing Olympics got the node for the 5,000m team race by virtue of having won the Diamond League last year. Mwangangi is also recuperating from a leg injury.

Mwangangi and Kiplangat, who finished third in the men’s race will team up with the 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze medallist, Edwin Soi, and Emmanuel Kipsang, who finished first and second in the men’s 5,000m race.

Kipyego, who is based in the USA, failed to finish the women’s 10,000m race will tea, up with the 2011 World 5,000m and 10,000m champion, Vivian Cheruiyot, who won the race and second–placed Betsy Saina, who is also based in the USA.

Cherono, who didn’t compete in women’s 5,000m, and instead opted for the 1,500m where she finished second, will now combine with Viola Kibiwott and Irene Cheptai, who prevailed in the race.

Instead, the Commonwealth 1,500m champion, Faith Chepng’etich, will now team up with Nancy Chepkwemoi and Viola Lagat, who finished third and fourth respectively.

The final marathon team that has been training in Iten under coaches Isaac Kirwa and Gilbert Koech was named. World record holder Dennis Kimetto and his predecessor, Wilson Kipsang, who is also the 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist, and Mark Korir make the men’s team.

Two times World defending champion, Edna Kiplagat, Jemima Sumgong and Veseline Jepkesho are in the women’s team.